ENVIRONMENT : Device to Lessen Toner Waste OKd


The Air Quality Management District this month approved a device created by a Pasadena company that incinerates the waste toner left over from copiers and laser printers, rather than dumping the toxic toner in landfills.

Spokesmen for the firm, Spectrum West Companies, said toner left in cartridges is an increasing disposal problem as the use of laser printers, copiers and fax machines proliferates. The company remanufactures used toner cartridges.

A catalytic converter developed by Spectrum West blasts 1,000 pounds of waste toner down to a pound of ash, said David De Mulle, general manager.

The current practice for toner cartridge manufacturers is to dump waste toner in landfills in double-wrapped plastic bags. The catalytic converter saves landfill space and waste hauling fees, De Mulle said, produces less than a half pound of emissions per day and releases no toxic substances.

"In August, our dumpster was filled three times a week," De Mulle said. "Now the trash people pick up a half-empty dumpster once a week. Our fees went from $300 a month to $90 a month."

The device, which burns at 5,800 degrees Fahrenheit, also produces enough energy for the company to heat its warehouse and the water in its bathrooms.

And it cost less than $9,000 to create.

"The whole concept was to do something cheaply to save more money," De Mulle said.

The company plans to market the incinerator in June.

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